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Office of News and Information
212 Whitehead Hall / 3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-2692
Phone: (410) 516-7160 / Fax (410) 516-5251

Aug. 16, 1996
Media Memo

To: Science Writers/Editors
From: Emil Venere, Johns Hopkins University, Emil@jhu.edu

Astronomers will hold an international conference beginning Monday, Aug. 26, to discuss plans for new types of sky surveys that promise to dramatically increase the amount of information available to science. They also will release the first findings from the surveys.

The International Astronomical Union symposium, at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, will be dedicated to new developments in multi-wavelength sky surveys. Some of the surveys are under way, and the rest will start within a year.

Breakthroughs have been made possible by satellites that make astronomical observations in different wavelengths. Astronomers are now able to conduct surveys across the spectrum, from X-rays to ultraviolet, infrared to radio waves, and then store their observations in a computer. Past sky surveys were conducted in the optical range of the spectrum alone and then recorded on photographic plates.

It is important to study a region in space in more than one wavelength to learn the relationships between various objects and to study how galaxies and the universe evolve.

"When you are surveying a large area of sky, you can find things serendipitously, so you could find a whole class of new objects," said Andrew Connolly, an associate research scientist in the Johns Hopkins Department of Physics and Astronomy. "If you just look at a particular type object individually, and study it, you learn a lot about that object, but you are actually limiting yourself."

The week-long symposium is co-hosted by Johns Hopkins and the Space Telescope Science Institute. Journalists interested in attending the symposium may contact the following astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute: Marc Postman, at (410) 338-4700, Cheryl Schmidt, (410) 338-4404 or Barry Lasker, (410) 338-4840.

Information also is available on-line, at http://www- gsss.stsci.edu/iau_symp_179/announcement.html.

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